“Zoo of Death”: Petitions mount to shut down Indonesian zoo with disturbing animal deaths

The Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia is being called the “nightmare zoo” and “zoo of death” after repeated horror stories of premature animal deaths and poor living conditions of the zoo’s creatures are once again being brought to public awareness.  The Surabaya Zoo was set up almost a century ago and is the largest zoo in Indonesia, at one time boasting the most impressive ‘collection’ in Southeast Asia.  Unfortunately the zoo has found itself repeatedly in the news for alarming stories about premature deaths of the animals in it’s care.

Roughly 15 of the zoo’s 2,500-4,000(figures are mixed) individuals are dying every month, an amount down from 20 after a change in zoo administration.  The zoo’s Provincial Enterprise (PDTS) operational director Liang Kaspe has stated that the number of animal deaths occurring at the zoo are normal.  “It would be impossible for the number of animal deaths to be zero. The deaths are natural. Many animals also die at conservation institutions, but they are not publicized,” said Liang.  The zoo’s PDTS managing director stated also that in the near future 84 more animals were expected to die, about half from old age and the other half from chronic disease.  However, calling many of these highly publicized and disturbing deaths ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ is debatable.

zoo of death

In January alone, the Jakarta Post reported that an antelope died of a stomach disorder, a bawean deer died from an infection after having one of it’s limbs amputated, and a lion was found dead in it’s cage hanging from a wire around it’s neck.  “Although six of the zoo’s animals had died in the past month, no laboratory tests on the carcasses had been conducted and no one has been held responsible,” reported Indra Harsaputra on The Jakarta Post.com.  Sadly, six deaths are not even bad in comparison.  In the past repeated disheartening reports about animal deaths at Surabaya have surfaced including a giraffe who died followed by an autopsy revealing a 40 pound ball of plastic trash and wrappers found in it’s stomach from zoo visitors and also a rare Komodo dragon, among others.

zoo is

Aside from the high death rate, the zoo has also repeatedly been under fire for the living conditions of many of the creatures in it’s care, if it can be called that.  There have been ongoing issues with overcrowding and lack of overall birth control and family planning programs for the zoo’s variety of species as well as questions as to the quality and quantity of food and exercise provided, and other aspects of the creatures’ lives.  Around 180 pelicans are kept in a pen only the size of a volleyball court where the birds can barely extend their wings without running into a neighbor.  The 16 tigers are kept in a row of concrete cages where they do not receive adequate space or exercise.  Zoo curator Sri Pentawati said, “There are too many tigers.  We have a hard time rotating them out to get all the exercise they need.”  One white tiger is covered by skin legions and suffers from back complications so severe that it is difficult for her to stand up or walk around.  It has been suggested that her cramped living situation has contributed to this disorder.

Clearly, the care of the creatures at the Surabaya Zoo is not adequate.  Over the years the staff and management of the zoo have been in question with accusations that several rare animals were stolen from the zoo and sold into the pet trade, that food intended for the lions and tigers was/is stolen by staff and sold at local markets, and even that the death of warthog, whose autopsy revealed cyanide in his body, may have been linked to rivalry between groups of the zoo workers.  Following recent public upset over the conditions at the Indonesian zoo, Change.org is organizing a petition to shut down.  This is certainly not a safe haven or a respectable place for these beautiful and rare creatures.

You can sign the Petition here: http://www.change.org


Laura Weber is a staff writer for The Mind Unleashed, a visual artist, and energetic healer living in New York City, New York. Somewhat of a modern renaissance woman, her art and healing work focuses in vibration, plant medicine, water alchemy, and awakening the creator consciousness in all people. To read other work by Laura visit www.cocreatingself.blogspot.com.






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